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The Grand Rapids Public Museum opened its Ice Age: Michigan Frozen Secrets exhibit

Grand Rapids Public Museum Clapp Family Mastodon exhibit
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids Public Museum Clapp Family Mastodon exhibit

The curation includes a third element; some American mastodon bones recently discovered in Newaygo County.

More than 300 locations across the lower-two-thirds of Michigan has produced mastodon materials, but not like the specimen unearthed when the Kent and Newaygo County drain commissions worked a culvert project in 2022 on the property of the Clapp family in Grant Township.

“We know it’s a male mastodon. We know it’s a juvenile, still growing. We think it’s between 10-20 years old when it died.”

Dr. Cory Redman is Grand Rapids Public Museum Science Curator. He says a bone sample was sent off to a lab in Florida where it was carbon dated.

“We know that the mastodon died 13,210 years ago, plus or minus error bar of 60 years.”

Doctors from the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University are studying the Clapp Family Mastodon remains. A specimen that is 75-80% complete.

“Which is really, really impressive. Anything over 20% you’re super-excited about. So, 75-80% is absolutely fantastic.”

It’s lower jaw with a full set of teeth is the only part of the skull that was found. The mastodon’s cranium and tusks are missing.

The bones recovered are currently drying. It takes a year to a year and a half for the bones to completely dry. They’re being studied, photographed and cataloged with the intention of putting the Clapp Mastodon on display.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.